It was a ceremonial start to the annual season of Vallasadya vazhipadu at Sree Parthasarathy Temple situated on the banks of river Pampa at Aranmula on Sunday.
Hundreds of devotees thronged the small village of Aranmula to witness the ceremony and partake of the ritualistic feast, Vallasadya, offered to the crew of Palliyodams (snakeboats) as an important offering to the presiding deity.
The ritualistic feast was formally inaugurated by Travancore Devaswom Board president, M.Rajagopalan Nair, by lighting a ceremonial lamp immediately after the Utchapuja at the temple at 11.45 am. K.Sivadasan Nair, MLA, inaugurated the sale of tickets for the annual snakeboat regatta, Uthrittathi Vallamkali, to be held in river Pampa on September 14 on the occasion.
Prof P.J.Kurien, Rajya Sabha member, Anto Antony, MP, Raju Abraham, MLA, S.H.Panchapakesan, Sabarimala Special Commissioner appointed by Kerala High Court, K.K.Balachandran, Superintendent of Police, P.Mohanraj, District Congress Committee(I) president, P.S.Nair, Central Travancore Development Council chairman and K.V.Sambadevan, Palliyoda Seva Sanghom (PSS) president were among those who attended the function.
Vallasadya is a ritualistic sumptuous feast offered by the devotees of Lord Parthasarathy to the crew of Palliyodams treating them as representatives of the presiding deity.
The sumptuous feast was organised at the temple premises by a committee comprising Palliyoda Seva Sanghom president, secretary, devaswom assistant commissioner, administrative officer and two representatives of devotees.
The crew of the 14 snakeboats belonging to the Palliyoda Karayogams of Thekkemuri, Edayaranmula-East, Poovathoor-East, Venpala, Umayattukara, Kottathoor, Othera, Punnamthottom, Edappavoor, Edappavoor-Peroor, Thottappuzhasserry, Cherukol, Maramon and Malakkara partook of the feast held on the first day.
The devotees who offered the Vallasadya have accorded a traditional reception with Thalappoli, ceremonial umbrellas and percussion to the snakeboat crew on their arrival at the temple ghats. The boat crew reached the temple precincts in a customary procession, singing the rhythmic Vanchippattu, songs in praise of Lord Krishna. They offered tobacco, betel leaves and areca nuts to the presiding deity keeping them before the holy temple mast as it being a unique custom as part of the ritualistic ceremony.
The TDB chief served the feast of as many as 45 different items, including rice, on a plantain leaf kept before the temple mast amidst loud chants of Krishna bhajans and Vanchippattu.
The snakeboat crew, along with other devotees, were served with the sumptuous feast at the Oottupura (dining hall) and other temporary pandals erected at the temple precincts, later.
The boat crew demanding special dishes in Vanchippattu style was an added attraction of Vallasadya.
The two-month long season of Vallasadya will come to a close on October 1, according to PSS leaders.
The Ashtami-Rohini Vallasadya, a mass feast, will be held at the temple premises on August 21.
Mr G.Sukumaran Nair, Nair Service Society general secretary, will inaugurate the feast by lighting a ceremonial lamp at the Aanakkottil in front of the golden temple mast.
M.Rajagopalan Nair, TDB president, K.Cicily and K.S.Padmanabhan, board members, will also attend the function.
Mr Sambadevan said as much as 5000 kg rice would be cooked for the Ashtami-Rohini Vallasadya and as many as two lakh people are expected to attend the feast this year.
According to him, crew of 46 snakeboats are expected to participate in the annual feast.
As many as 45 side dishes, that include different types of fried items, sweet dishes, including the famous Ambalauzha palpayasom and even a piece of dressed sugarcane, will be served with the feast.
Representatives from all the 46 Palliyoda karayogams will reach the temple ghats in their snakeboats for attending the feast and the devotees will accord a customary reception to the boat crew at the temple ghats.
Ashtami-Rohini Vallamkali, a ceremonial parade of snakeboats, will also be held in the river course prior to the Vallasadya.